Best wood to stain walnut?

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Forum topic by DetroitReds posted 09-10-2011 03:41 PM 20746 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2874 days

09-10-2011 03:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut dining table

Some friends are interested in a dining table and like the color and character of walnut, but not the price. Any suggestions for a wood that would look good with a walnut stain? And, for that matter, any finishing suggestions?
Thanks all.

12 replies so far

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 2673 days

#1 posted 09-10-2011 04:08 PM

I can’t comment on a good replacement for walnut as i never have tried to and i don’t think i ever will. Walnut is a very beautiful and easy to work wood. However depending on your location there are plenty of places to get walnut and a low cost. If you live anywhere near the midwest there are 100s of saw mills that sell walnut pretty cheap. I can get walnut for $2 a bf…

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6955 posts in 2621 days

#2 posted 09-10-2011 04:09 PM

Oak can be stained to a dark color. Might be a good choice.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3006 days

#3 posted 09-10-2011 06:43 PM

Don’t know what the best wood is, but I have had some good results staining Yellow Pine with dark walnut stain. You do need to use a prestain conditioner before staining to avoid blotching.

It sounds as if color is the most important factor next to price. If grain pattern isn’t an issue Poplar might be a suggestion.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Carbide's profile


210 posts in 2469 days

#4 posted 09-15-2011 03:07 AM

Honestly I have used MINWAX brand stain on white pine, yellow pine, red oak, white oak, and cherry. The walnut stain on cherry would in my opinion be the closest in color to natural walnut. The other breeds that I mentioned have to coarse of grain patterns. Cherry is probably the closest grain pattern to walnut in the species of my area. Give it a shot. But nothing will compare to real walnut with an oil based finish.

-- When it feels like a job, it isn't a hobby anymore.

View grittyroots's profile


53 posts in 2714 days

#5 posted 09-15-2011 03:19 AM

I’m in the middle of a walnut cabinet job. i used 2nd grade lumber. it’s about 2.60bf in TN. i used Danish oil dark walnut. this wood has amazing character and is cheap.

-- Gritty Roots i can build anything as long as i have 2 things the internet and my father-in-law

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3767 days

#6 posted 09-15-2011 03:29 AM

Poplar would probably take the stain the best, but as mentioned already, there’s not much difference in price for most domestic hardwoods. When I give quotes, I don’t have to figure them on wood type, since they all run around $4-5 a board ft here in Texas. You need to sell you’re potential clients on using the wood type that they want the table to look like. I think they would be happier with the end result. My $0.02 worth.

View DetroitReds's profile


14 posts in 2874 days

#7 posted 09-15-2011 03:31 AM

Yes, they’re the ones who need to be happy (and are paying for materials anyways). I’ve been leaning towards ash lately, but have some time before I start to make a final decision. I appreciate all of the advice.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3083 days

#8 posted 09-15-2011 03:32 AM

Poplar is the worse wood to stain, any closed grains tend to not he accept stain. Best to use dye.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3584 days

#9 posted 09-15-2011 03:39 AM

I’ve had good results with poplar using water based dye. Problem is that poplar is soft and would not be very durable as a table cause it would dent if somebody drops something on it.

Also know this – it’s a lot of work (staining poplar), and if your time is worth anything it would be cheaper to spend more on the wood.

PS – Birch also takes dark stain well.

-- Joe

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3333 days

#10 posted 09-15-2011 03:57 AM

Western Red Alder is a wood that can be used to look like many other woods, including Walnut.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3091 days

#11 posted 09-15-2011 05:37 AM

Another vote for Alder. I’ve used it for projects in “cherry” and “walnut”.

My stain/finish guy can make almost any wood look like cherry or walnut, but it’s usually a three step process so his cost offsets any savings in materials.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3293 days

#12 posted 09-15-2011 06:25 AM

I have seen maple stained to look very much like walnut. In some places maple can be found fairly cheap – especially if you don’t wan’t highly figured (Like birdseye or burl). It is also hard enough to be a table unlike say poplar, pine or cedar. Maple is the cheapest hardwood sold around here which is not saying much as it is not a big part of the CA forrest.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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